Dates are the nutritious fruits of the date palm tree and are grown in the tropical regions of the world. Due to dates’ nutritional value and health benefits, they are very popular and consumed in most parts of the world in various forms. Dates are chewy and sweet in taste. Dates are considered to possess some really potent health benefits as they may help in boosting energy levels, are a rich source of iron, aid in improving the digestive process (due to their high fiber content), and are a rich source of antioxidants. They also have anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties, which can help in preventing and treating various health conditions. A few of the health benefits of dates are discussed below.
What are dates?
The botanical name of the date plant is Phoenix dactylifera, and it is one of the healthiest fruits available on earth. It has been an important part of the diet in the Middle East for thousands of years. They are popular as they provide immediate energy due to their high calorie content.
Dates are considered sacred and consumed during the religious fasting period of Ramadan. Depending upon variety, dates can have 60%–70% natural sugar and high fiber content. which makes it an instant energy booster.
What are health benefits of dates?
A comprehensive fruit diet is incomplete without the inclusion of dates. The following are the few health benefits of dates:
Dates possess high nutritional value.
Dates possess high nutritional value. Dates are a source of many essential vitamins and nutrients that are essential for maintaining overall body health and wellness. Dry dates are, in fact, one of the healthiest dry fruits available. Because they are dried, their calorie content is higher than most fruits and is comparable with that of dry fruits like raisins and figs. Each 3.5-ounce (100gm.) of dates provides the following nutrients:
- Calories 270-310
- Carbs: 75 grams
- Fiber- 7 grams
- Protein-2 grams
- Fats:.04 grams
- Potassium: 20% of the RDI (recommended dietary intake)
- Manganese-about 15% of the RDI
- Magnesium-14% of the RDI
- Copper-18% of the RDI
- Iron-5% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6-12% of the RDI
- Sodium-2 mg.
- Antioxidants: 80400 micromol
The nutritional values may differ with varieties.
Using dates provides high energy content. 100 grams of dates can provide up to 314 kilocalories of energy. although much of the energy is in the form of sugars like glucose and fructose. Dates have a good amount of fiber and have a low glycemic index. (The glycemic index is a system of assigning a number to carbohydrate-containing foods, according to how much each food increases blood sugar). Thus, eating 2-3 dates at a time may be a good source of energy even for a patient with diabetes.
Dates can help in improving bone health.
Dates are a rich source of micronutrients like selenium, manganese, magnesium, and copper. The micronutrients present in dates may help in developing and maintaining optimum bone health. Adding dates to your diet can help you treat bone conditions like osteoporosis.
As per publication by Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., LRD., et al., and colleagues, of North Dakota State University. It was stated that dates contain boron, which is very beneficial for bone health.
Dates can help in improving the digestive process.
Dates are a rich source of fiber, which can improve your digestive process by regularizing your bowel movements. As per a study, it was found that people who consumed dates daily for a week showed improvement in bowel movements in comparison to people who did not consume dates. It was also noticed that the concentration of ammonia was lower in people who consumed dates. Eating dates can improve your digestive health by optimizing your intestinal movements (peristalsis), thus relieving constipation and helping you lead a healthy life.
Dates are a rich source of antioxidants.
Antioxidants play a vital role in neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals are harmful pro-oxidative molecules that cause damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and DNA (both mitochondrial and nuclear). Free radicals are formed in your skin when it is exposed to the sun, in your muscles when you exercise, in your liver when you drink alcohol, and in your tissues when they absorb oxygen from red blood cells. You cannot eliminate the formation of free radicals from your body completely. Cellular damage occurs when extensive free radical damage exceeds your body’s ability to neutralize them. This may lead to an increase in the risk of many chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, etc.
Consuming antioxidants in the form of food can play a great role in neutralizing free radicals, thus protecting you from diseases. Date consumption, as an antioxidant food, can play a significant role in neutralizing free radicals. In comparison to other dry fruits in the same category, dates have the highest concentration of antioxidants.
Carotenoids: Dates contain carotenoids. The average carotene content in fresh dates is 913 mcg/100 gm and in dried dates it is 973 mcg/100 gm. Carotenoids play a significant role in reducing the risk of muscular degeneration. Muscular degeneration can be very hazardous for your ocular (eye) health. Carotenoids also play a vital role in taking care of your heart health. Heart health, which is one of the leading health issues facing the world today, Thus, consuming dates and adopting a healthy lifestyle to keep your heart healthy is one of the important health benefits of dates.
Flavonoids: Dates contain flavonoids. Flavonoids possess potent anti-inflammatory properties and play a vital role in reducing the risk of diabetes. They are also beneficial in reducing the risk of degenerative diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s. Flavonoids are also believed to reduce the risk of certain types of cancers. For more reading, click here.Therapeutic effects of date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera) in the prevention of diseases via modulation of anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-tumour activity
Dates contain phenolic acid , which has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to lower the risk of developing heart disease. It can also reduce certain types of cancer.
Dates may help in improving brain health.
Adding dates to your diet may help improve your brain health. If inflammatory markers are present, then it is not considered a good sign for your neural health. Inflammatory cytokines like interleukin can be very damaging to your brain health. An increase in the presence of interleukin 6 (IL-6) may lead to an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s (a common cause of dementia in 60–80% of cases).
The health benefits of dates include: their regular use may help in reducing IL-6 levels and thereby lower the risk of degenerative diseases of the brain like Alzheimer’s. As per a study conducted on mice, it was found that including date palm in the feed led to the reduction of amyloid beta-protein activity, which can reduce the production of plaques, harmful to the brain. Formation of plaques may lead to cell damage, causing severe health conditions like Alzheimer’s.
The study also suggested that eating dates can also help in improving memory, learning abilities, and relieving anxiety. One of the benefits of consuming dates is that they can improve brain health and can also help reduce the risk of neuro-degenerative diseases.
Musthafa Mohamed Essa, Ph.D., and colleagues published a study in which they found that dates may help provide protection against oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. As per research, “date palm fruits are a good source of dietary fiber and are rich in total phenolics and natural antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ferulic acid, protocatechuic acid, and caffeic acid.” these are polyphenolic compounds, which may help in slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s and can lead to an overall improvement in brain health.
The antioxidants present in the dates can play a major role in improving mental health. However, more human studies are needed.
The health benefits of dates include that they may help in inducing natural labor.
Date consumption may help in inducing natural labor while delivering a child. Eating dates in the last few weeks of pregnancy may help in promoting cervical dilation and lowering the need for induced labor. They can also help in reducing labor time. For more reading, click here. “consuming dates in late pregnancy was effective in decreasing length of labor processes and reduced the need of oxytocin for labor acceleration. Thus, it is recommended to consume dates in women without contraindications”.
Adding dates to the regular diet plans of pregnant women may help in reducing the amount of pressure that is applied to deliver a baby. This enables the entire process to be much smoother.
Dates possess unique compounds that are able to reduce the need for oxytocin during pregnancy. These compounds are capable of mimicking the effects of oxytocin by binding to the receptors and facilitating healthy contractions during labor. Dates are also rich in tannins, which help with contractions during labor. They also contain natural sugar and calories, which help in providing energy during labor.
As per a study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2017, it was stated that 154 pregnant women, when consumed dates, did not require to be induced into labor with prostaglandin and oxytocin. Date consumption has no adverse effects on mother and child. One more study showed eating 6 dates every day for 4 weeks before labor reduced the need for labor induction.
Date consumption may reduce the risk of cancer.
Dates contain beta-D-glucan, a compound that plays a significant role in promoting anti-tumor activity in your body. Dates are also rich in antioxidants, which help in reducing free radicals. Free radicals may lead to cancer. Regular and moderate consumption of dates may help in reducing the risk of cancer and the formation of tumors.
Dates may help in preventing heart diseases.
As per a study conducted by Waseem Rock et al. in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, it was stated that consuming dates was effective in reducing triglyceride levels and lowering oxidative stress. Both of these are risk factors for heart disease and atherogenesis (the building up of fatty plaque in the arteries).
Dates can help in improving male fertility.
Dates are rich in vitamins and minerals, which can help in increasing sperm count and improving libido (sexual urge). The flavonoids and amino acids present in dates provide optimum energy for performance by the male. The microelements like sterols and estrone of date palm may help in optimizing male fertility.
Dates help in nourishing your skin.
Dates help to nourish your skin by providing vitamin C and vitamin D, which makes your skin glow. Vitamin C and vitamin D also optimize your skin’s elasticity.
The nutrients in dates may be helpful in slowing down the aging process. and enables you to look young for a longer period of time. Consumption of dates also helps in lowering the chances of melanin deposition in your skin. (Melanin is a substance in your body that produces hair, eye, and skin pigmentation).
Dates may help in reducing hair loss.
Dates are a natural source of iron. With an optimum quantity of iron in the blood, your hair gets the required amount of nourishment and oxygen, which facilitates new hair growth with a reduced hair fall rate.
The health benefits of dates include that they may help in preventing anemia.
Some studies have stated that a regular intake of dates may help in optimizing iron content in hemoglobin in the blood. Although the iron content in dates is not very high (5% of the recommended daily intake), they show comparable results to iron supplements. Constipation may be caused by iron supplements, whereas consuming dates can solve the problem of constipation. As dates are known to help in relieving constipation, for more reading, click here.Can date fruits and 7 dates replace iron tablets in increasing hemoglobin levels?“
Dates are good for your kidney health.
Dates are good for your kidney health. In a study, it was stated that Ajwa—a type of date—can actively reduce the lesions caused by nephrological disorders. Date extracts may help in reducing excess plasma and creatinine in the kidneys. Thus improving overall kidney health.
Date consumption helps in relieving hangovers.
Date consumption helps in relieving hangovers after drinking alcohol the previous night. Although more studies are needed, it is believed that consuming the peeled dates soaked in water in the morning after the night’s drink helps in curtailing hangover effects and keeps you active and energetic.
Dates help in reducing the risk of night blindness.
Dates are a rich source of vitamin A. Consuming dates regularly may help you avoid the risk of getting night blindness. The major cause of night blindness is a deficiency of vitamin A. Dates are considered one of the oldest remedies to cure night blindness and other problems related to vitamin A deficiency. As per an article published in Heart Views, it was stated that dates are rich in carotenoids, which may help in maintaining healthy vision.
Dates contain anti-inflammatory properties.
Dates contain phenolics and flavonoids, which play a vital role in reducing inflammation in your body. Inflammation is a reactive mechanism that helps to fight against several diseases, trauma, and infections. Curtailing inflammatory markers helps in getting protection from health problems and leading an active and healthy life.
In a study published in 2012, it was stated that date consumption may be effective in reducing symptoms associated with SAR (seasonal allergic rhinitis). In the US alone, approximately 30 million people are affected by SAR. In a study published in Inflammatory Research, it was found that date palm immunotherapy was effective in reducing several inflammation markers in allergic rhinitis patients.
ways to consume dates.
The versatility of dates makes them easily consumable. Dates can be blended with baked foods to provide optimum nutrition to lead a healthy life It can be easily added to a healthy diet plan for kids. There are various ways to add this superfood to your diet. They can be consumed as a natural sweetener in various dishes. Dates can make delicious and nutritious snacks. They can be paired with foods like almonds, nut butter, or cheese.
Dates can be consumed in several ways. A few of which are suggested below:
- can be consumed as it is.
- Date paste can be mixed with milk or yogurt. “Date paste can be made by adding 1 cup of dates (around 8 ounces by weight) with around 1/4 cup of water and blending in a normal food processor.”
- Date paste can be used as a bread spread and consumed as a delicious and healthy snack.
- Date pieces can be added to cereal and porridge.
- Add dates to your fruit salad.
- Sprinkle dates on top of your leafy green salad.
- Dates can be stuffed with ingredients like cream cheese, blue cheese, nuts, or chocolate. (Make a small slit lengthwise, remove the seed, and stuff with stuffing).
Dates are high in sugar and calories, which may lead to weight gain and other health problems like abdominal issues, hyperkalemia (higher than normal levels of potassium in the blood), fructose intolerance, etc. Therefore, it is advisable to consume dates in moderation for maximum health benefits. It would be better to consult your healthcare provider for regular consumption.
For awareness purposes only.
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